March 3, 2023

I don’t have a photo for today. I thought about taking one of the blue sky, or the snowplows clearing the center berm on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, or the moon rising over Heavenly and reflecting on the snow, or the festive dinner party tonight with friends. But I didn’t take out my phone, so I don’t have a photo for today.

Instead, here is one of Jersey from December 2015. She loved her Wells Fargo collectible horses. The first one came home to the Kingsbury Grade treehouse in a backpack. When I opened a savings account at lunch that day, the teller told me explicitly that the stuffed horse was an actual collectible item, and not, in fact, a dog toy. Well, Jersey had that collectible out of the bag before I could even get all the way upstairs. She was smitten from the start, in a way that she hadn’t been with other toys, and from that moment on, all I wanted to do was keep her in horses.

There are only so many bank accounts one really needs, and I was thrilled when my Mom got in on the fun and sent a few along at Christmases. They all had names and backstories, and varied in color and saddle designs. Those details quickly got lost — the names and the accessories — as Jersey carried them around the house, or out in the yard, or into her closet to munch on them in peace and quiet. She had a stable of as many as six at one time, in various stages of dismemberment and disrepair. “Laundry Day” was a comical/macabre display of stuffed horses, pinned by their ears to the drying rack, having come out of the washer only slightly cleaner than when they went in.

I still have one tucked away in my storage unit, along with several other items that belonged to her and that I cannot bear to part with. I have given away all but one of her beds, as other older dogs like memory foam also, and a few other odds and ends – mostly the diapers and booties we needed towards the end. I still have her chuck-it, and her leash and collar, and some other toys in a bin. I keep her ashes in a cedar box on my nightstand, and in a small vial in my car, and incorporated into my tattoo of her paw print. And when I think of Jersey, I usually tear up (like I am doing now). But I also smile, because I remember her smile, and I am so lucky that I got to keep her in horses for so long.

That happy dog smile.

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